The status of Jerusalem

Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images


Sir, – Jerusalem is a city of peace, not politics. Jerusalem is equally holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews. The legal status of Jerusalem is defined by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which recommends the city be administered as a separate entity. When Israel applied to be admitted to the UN in 1949, it specifically recognised the legal effect of Resolution 181 on Jerusalem.The US policy since then has treated Jerusalem as a city whose fate must be decided by negotiation, and not by force.

During the Six-Day war of 1967 Israel occupied the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, and later it annexed the city of Jerusalem in 1980. However, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, adopted by 14 votes to none, declared the law null and void. No foreign country today has an embassy in Jerusalem. US policy has long refrained from recognising Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, and it always has been. In 1980, Israel illegally declared the city of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. In  2015 the US supreme court issued a decision upholding US practice that forbids Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their country of birth on passports. Tel Aviv, and not Jerusalem, is the capital of Israel. Only two countries around the world, the Czech Republic and Colombia, have recognised it as such. Countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and all European nations recognise only Tel Aviv as the capital, and hence maintain their embassies there.

Israel’s leaders are so arrogant that they believe in the notion might is right. Israel is very powerful and thinks it can do whatever it wants unchallenged, even if its action is, in fact, unjustified.

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would, without question, be very unwise. It would only exacerbate, rather than diminish, tension in the Middle East. – Yours, etc,